Until our Hearts burst more open
Than openness could afford
So big that we could feel the stars and planets
Tickling our dream-weavings, nudging them to shape
We danced and sang and gave our animal a moment
on the throne
And nature charged in
And went wild with love through our veins
Which were veins no longer
But star-struck express lanes
For the cosmos to speed through;
We got so wild that freedom anointed us
As a truth called beauty
And we threw comets of love from our Heart-singing hands
Across the world to bless united humanity, all creation.
The greatest victory was our surrender
As we remember a love so big
That our Hearts had to become the universe
To feel it...
I often signoff on my emails with BIG LOVE and it's been joyful to see others as well starting to use this. But BIG LOVE ain't just a random smashing together of two words and it bears significance to know what this alchemical fusing is all about.
I was introduced to BIG LOVE via my ecstatic work with eminent wild soul, Dr. Bradford Keeney (dubbed the "American Shaman", though I'm sure he loathes this and most titles). I took a two-year intensive course with Bradford during my Chinese Medicine studies at The Institute of Traditional Medicine in Toronto, Canada where he taught us shamanic perspectives on healing and, most notably, "shaking medicine" (a term he doesn't use all that often nowadays). Bradford is primarily a renowned psychotherapist and professor who left academia and his practice for a time on a remarkable sabbatical in search of the original healing traditions of the planet after being frustrated by the ineptitude of modern therapies. On that global odyssey, Bradford spent much of his time in the Kalahari Desert region of Africa, working with the San Bush People, one of the oldest enduring societies on Earth. With the San, Bradford was initiated into their shamanic medicines, including an ecstatic shaking practice which he also found in many other regions all over the world. In fact, shaking, ecstatic movement and dance is one of the oldest medicines on the planet!
"Shake your booty for God!" Bradford Keeney
When one shakes their body and moves in a profoundly enthusiastic, wildly playful way, one acknowledges the body-mind continuum in a powerful offering of real experience not mere intellectual fancy. Moving the body is moving the mind and broaches that we are really beings essentially of frequency, of energy, and that when we get stuck, we invite dis-ease. The mind will react to this stuckness as obsessive thoughts and emotions, which so many of us suffer from. This can also work vice versa. The important point is that all too often we try and THINK our way out of thinking, which usually leads to inner-torment. But if we instead listened to the ancient shamans urgings of "when was the last time you danced?" we might just start a healing revolution in our being.
"My job in this life is to give people spiritual ecstasy through music. In my concerts, people cry, laugh, dance. If they climaxed spiritually, I did my job. I did it decently and honestly." Carlos Santana
When one gives oneself as an offering of dance and movement to music, letting rhythm, harmony even intentional dissonance to be witnessed through deep presence, sounds incite our bodies to move, which remember means our minds move too and if you're like me and have a penchant for the mystical, your soul's involved also. What happens next is profound: people who dance in such sacred spaces start to feel really good. This is because the energy or life-force that courses through our bodies through an intricate energetic meridian system is by its nature a current of joy so when it gets unstuck it tends to unleash its original frequency. But that's just the beginning.
We've all heard the great spiritual traditions harken us to the truth that ALL IS LOVE/LOVE IS ALL and while that may sound nice if we just read about it, it's a half-truth. Worse, if we're in a murky state, energy blocked, the whole ALL IS LOVE clarion call might frustrate us. The real question is, how can we experience this so-called eternal truth? The ancient shamanic traditions elaborate: love really is the nature of all that is in the universe BUT if you're energy meridians are blocked, good luck letting that LOVE in. The thing is our energy meridians don't stop at the surface of our skin: they continue on into the universe around us. In fact, one of the great aims of existence is to unblock all of our energetic channels so we can become a true continuum and conduit for the universe. Here, let Alex Grey blow your mind on THIS.
Yeah aren't we beautiful in such a powerful way? When we shake, move or even meditate our way into unblocking this universal flow, we start to know what the BIG LOVE is all about. We will begin to feel ecstasy. What does that mean?
late 14c., extasie "elation," from Old French estaise "ecstasy, rapture," from Late Latin extasis, from Greek ekstasis "entrancement, astonishment, insanity; any displacement or removal from the proper place," in New Testament "a trance," from existanai "displace, put out of place," also "drive out of one's mind" (existanai phrenon), from ek "out" (see ex-) + histanai "to place, cause to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet).
Used by 17c. mystical writers for "a state of rapture that stupefied the body while the soul contemplated divine things," which probably helped the meaning shift to "exalted state of good feeling" (1610s).
Notice some of the terminology here: to 'drive out one's mind'; 'put out of place'--when we connect to wild expressions of dance and song as exemplified by indigenous culture, the healing that happens is because we are getting out of the mind and into a greater mind and intelligence, that of the universe. (Another great way of defining ecstasy is "intense feeling states" to denote that it doesn't always mean JOY. Ecstasy can mean feeling massive grief release, or a fury of anger). The key is feeling BIG which is massive medicine for a culture stagnating in social mores which keep our feelings domesticated to the status quo.
"The highest theology is play." Bradford Keeney
We need to find ways to let the BIG LOVE into our lives. From my experience going into such enhanced states of consciousness during shaking, improvised music-making or even big group hugs, the BIG LOVE feels as though the whole cosmos itself is doting upon you. Perhaps it's the love of Creator for us, a precious creature in this Divine matrix of life. Either way, it opens the Heart so wide former limits are often transcended and we experience a whole new reality of the world and ourselves that is both empowering and regenerating. Children know this only too well in their constancy of jubilance--we're born in such big feeling connection to the universe and the joy duly felt is an expression of the essential quality of that union. One of the great tragedies might be that it appears that for most of us we lose this galactic kinship; we grow dull and insensitive, slowly whittled down to a morass of despair and forlorn existence. And yet, is it really a tragedy, for in a moment of epiphany (whether catalyzed by a passionate conversation, a synchronous bumping into an ecstatic dance offering, etc.) this foundational pain might just compel us into a returning current where we re-engage with that playful connectivity, somehow, and within a mere hour of dancing or whatever activity initiates us, we are resounding with that joy once again. One of the great knowings is that no matter how far from the golden path one might tread, we're a breath away from being right back on it.
“The case for awe is also a case for humility...To stand in naked awareness in the presence of the earth, in silent knowing—this is awesome. Intimacy with the planet keeps us wild, undomesticated, unwilling to submit to social conditioning.” John Lamb Lash
Getting so wild returns a primal energy to our love that sharpens our senses and the aims of our life. Wildness unleashes something in us that regenerates our entire system and can rectify stubborn pathology with immediacy (there's a shaking clinic in Indonesia I am told where even people stricken with cancer have shaken for weeks and hours on end into a curative state). Getting wild also connects us to an aspect in us that is so natural, so vital, so powerful that we realize that the domesticating aspect of 'good behaviour' propagated by social mores is actually toxic to the authentic expression of our whole being; that something so relevant is being excluded from our existence. Perhaps it's a harkening to religious fundamentalist notions that have sadly penetrated our conditioning for centuries. Whatever the reason for us curtailing this wildness, the important thing is resurrecting it for it offers a boon of vitality and passion.
There's so much more to unpack here, such as exploring the whole story of why our wildness has been so genocided, what the ancients knew about ecstasy in epic, esoteric elaborations and so much more that I'll expand in further writings. Yet, I do want to leave this one final nugget: often we're afraid to be wild because losing control is so often equated with insanity, wrongdoing and even violence. This is a very old mind control program at work in our collective that has been used to keep us subjugated and meek in our power. We've actually been told to fear what might happen if we lose control BUT my experience has always been that when I truly surrender control, I often fall into a greater form of universal kind of control; a space where guidance and wisdom comes in ever-spontaneous streams of revelation and joy and love become so robust they explode from me in uncontainable hugs, affections and other acts of blessing unto others. In those moments, I realize how destructive this fear of ourselves has been and that many religions themselves in their extremists views of a fallen humanity have imprinted us with this fear. But cultures that have stayed beyond the touch of religion tell us something different: that we are not a fallen species but something so good and glorious that we need to ever deepen our expression so that we may discover and display this beauty to the world and ourselves with such ardent consistency that that innate goodness and beauty itself shall be the lived experience of what religions have all too often talked about but not actualized in us.
"The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed." Krishnamurti
If you're looking for ways to get the medicine of ecstasy in your lives, seek out ecstatic dances. They're burgeoning globally and there's many styles, such as 5 Rhythms and Nia and more. Or if you wish for a private ritual, put on some music that will stir your passion awake and get your feelings flowing and surrender to free expressive movement. Bradford told us the stoic samurai warriors of Japan would shake freely 20mins per day to acknowledge the need for wildness to keep the life-energy flowing in the body and challenge blockages. Most especially, if you're feeling downtrodden and miserable and you catch yourself in that heavy gravitational pull into a spiraling black whole that wants to munch your starlight, stop thinking about and get moving about it. I guarantee in mere minutes, you'll be shining a little brighter, maybe a whole lot, and that terrifying black hole might be in the corner sulking a bit to see you have so much fun. You might just then even extend a hand to it and invite it to join you :) The greatest victory is surrender...
"In wildness lies the preservation of the world."
Henry David Thoreau
I'll be offering some amazing opportunities to get wild and ecstatic in the coming months. If you can make it out on December 18th to the GALAXY MAKER concert at Temple 23, you're in for a whole new level with a great big loving community vibe. Also, I'm so very proud to be offering monthly Shaking classes at Octopus Garden Yoga Centre in the New Year on Fridays from 730-930pm: January 15th/February 12th/March 18th/April 15th.
And in some final personal news, I'm so honoured to announce that Stephen, Patrick and I as GALAXY MAKER have been asked back to headline the Saturday evening at The Yoga Conference again this year in Toronto on Saturday April 2nd! Last year, we filled the room with hundreds of shimmering souls getting naturally high to our ecstatic music and we'll be taking it to even another level this year. I've also been asked back to perform at Yoga Festival Kitzbuhel in Austria next September and The Groove Festival in Goa, India next December so an expanded European Tour for next year is already in the works with more stops in India! Stephen and I are beginning to also finally take some steps on the path of the new album which we hope to release some time next year. AND I'll soon be publishing some exciting e-books and podcasts on wild wisdom topics and reclaiming mystical eco-spiritual knowledge to support our species evolution into a new age of great peace.